#Women’sEmpowermentComponent, #FeministInternationalAssistancePolicy, #MarieClaudeBibeau, #Women’sVoiceAndLeadershipProgram; #GlobalAffairsCanada, #UnitedNations
Toronto, June 11 (Canadian-Media): During a launch of Canada's new Feminist International Assistance Policy in Ottawa, Canada’s international development minister, Marie-Claude Bibeau, highlighted on June 9, the presence of a strategy of a new focus on women’s empowerment, media reports said.
Marie Claude Bibeau. Image credit: Twitter handle
Despite many requests for more money, Bibeau acknowledged, during an interview on Friday, she would prefer to have more funding for international development, NationalPostNews reports said.
According to United Nations (UN) target, Canada, like the United Kingdom, was required to have spent 0.7 percent of its gross national income on foreign aid in contrast to the present 0.26 percent.
The government was also asked, by the November report of a Liberal-majority Commons committee, to try to reach the UN target by 2030.
But Bibeau emphasized the reason for government’s changed approach was to ensure $5-billion fund to achieve the maximum impact.
In 2002 under a Liberal government, the then-Canadian International Development Agency, which is now amalgamated in Global Affairs Canada, decided to focus on nine countries as enhanced partners.
In 2005, a list of 25 partners was suggested.
Due to the restriction of this strategy under Harper’s Conservative government, in 2009 only 80 percent of the budget was allotted to 20 priority countries.
By 2014, 90 percent of budget was earmarked for 25 countries: five in the Americas, seven in the Asia-Pacific, 10 in sub-Saharan Africa, plus the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan and Ukraine.
Although Harper government said this decision was based on the rationale that allocating more money in concentrated areas would provide more effective aid with improved results, but the government received criticism for including countries based on Canadian trade interests, particularly in Latin America and Ukraine.
After a review of foreign assistance that included broad consultation, Canada’s focus on specific countries was rejected.
A detailed rationale was not included in the policy released Friday. It only said that they were looking for a more flexible approach.
Bibeau emphasized that funding will be refocused on the poorest and most vulnerable countries keeping in mind the new feminist policy.
“It might mean a bit more (funding) somewhere, a bit less somewhere, a bit more focus on a certain area,” said Bibeau, news reported.
Without going into specifics, Bibeau said a full half of funding would be committed to sub-Saharan Africa having low-income populations and added there would be allocation of funds for female empowerment projects.
She wanted to increase the funds for such projects, from 2.6 percent in the 2015-16 fiscal year, to up to 15 per cent by 2020-21.
Local organization of about 30 developing countries, over five years, would receive $150 million in funding for “Women’s Voice and Leadership Program.”
“My target is really 100 per cent. I’m asking all our partners to have a women’s empowerment component. … And if they don’t have any, the project has to be approved by the minister… we obviously always want to be sure that Canadian money is well-utilized,” said Bibeau, News reports said.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)